by Dr. Dilip
Magic Words That Increase Your Sales
The Questions Are The
The Small Street Journal
New Castle County Chamber of Commerce
Cedar Tree Press, January 1998, Page 2
Sales techniques have changed
drastically during even the last five years. The old selling style
went something like this: The salesperson talks, the customer listens, the
salesperson "makes the pitch," and the customer does or doesn't
buy. In the old style, the salesperson tries to win or sell to the
customer. However, the philosophy doesn't work as well with the
business owners and buyers of today. Now selling isn't
"selling" - it's fulfilling the needs and wants of the customer
and finding solutions to their problems. And the way to find out a
prospect's needs and wants is to ask questions.
The new philosophy for
salespeople is "prospect interaction". People are more willing
to listen to you when they feel they can trust you and feel you understand
them. People also are more likely to respond to questions you ask
them than to unsolicited information you give them. The perception
is that if you, the salesperson, say it, the prospect doubts it. If
the prospect says it, it's true.
So how does a salesperson
involve the prospect in the selling process? Your
approach should prepare people to listen to you, to physically and
psychologically unfold their arms! With this objective in mind, the main
reason for a salesperson to make a statement is to prepare the way for a
question. It is useful to follow every statement you make with a
question, perpetuating the prospect's involvement.
Ron Willingham's popular book Integrity
Selling offers some useful tips when approaching a prospective
Tune the world out and
your prospect in
Put the prospect at ease
and make him or her feel important
Get a prospect to talk
about himself or herself
Hold eye contact and
listen to how your prospect feels
Willingham also has important
guidelines to use when speaking to a prospect:
Ask open ended, direct
questions that draw out wants or needs
Listen to and paraphrase
all points - write them down
Identify dominant wants or
needs - get the prospect's agreement
Assure the prospect that
you want to help him or her select the right product or service
It's important to remember
that people buy a product or service because of what it will do for them
or because of how it will make them look to others. People don't buy
anything because you want them to or because of what it is. With
that in mind, there is a set of questions about your product or service
that will have to be answered:
What benefits does the
What needs and wants does
What problems does it
How will the product or
service make the prospect look and feel?
What is the sizzle in your
product or service?
Questions That Help
Prospects Make Decisions
Give a choice of doing
something one way or another, never of doing or not doing.
This is a question that
the prospect might ask if he or she bought your product or
service. It requires a thinking response, not a
"yes" or "no". For example, a
salesperson could ask, "Where would you put your sofa? What
put in this cabinet, groceries or kitchen china?"
Make an assumptive statement,
then tie it down. This method focuses on the benefits for which the
prospect is looking. If you don't understand the buyer's wants or
need at this point, your assumptive tie-down will flush them out.
Tie-downs include the following: "Isn't it?" "Won't
you?" "Don't you?" For example, a book salesperson might
ask, "Your primary interest is having resource information at home to
help Suzy with her homework, isn't it?"
This eliminates a possible
objection to the sale by focusing your prospect's attention on a benefit.
Always tie down your statement by making it a question. For example,
a realtor could ask, "Isn't it true that the operational cost is more
important than the original investment?"
This is designed to surround a
possible objection with benefits and bury an objection. For example,
an electronics salesperson might say, "I know that you want greater
accuracy (benefit). So isn't it true that the size of the equipment
(possible objection) is less important than your confidence in the
information you receive (benefit repeated)?"
This hits a major problem right on
the head and eliminates it, or makes the prospect tell you if there is a
hidden objection. The structure is "Why is (problem) more
important than (benefits)?" For example, "Why is the fact that
you have never owned one of our trucks more important than the additional
profits I can prove our trucks will make for you?"
This is designed for an aggressive
answer or question. It allows you to reflect an objection back to a
prospect. This makes the prospect try to explain to you why he or
she has an objection. Very often prospects talk themselves out of
their objections. For example, if the prospect says your product
costs too much, respond by asking "It costs too much?" This
tactic forces the prospect to own up to the validity of the comment.
This is designed to force a
decision. Its structure is "Am I right to assume that if (sales
person action), you will (prospect action)?" For example, a speaker
or trainer could ask, "Am I right in assuming that if I do my keynote
speech for a lower fee, you will purchase my videotape for each meeting
attendee at the 45% bulk discount?
Using these philosophies and
words will help make selling meaningful, customer-oriented, and fun.
Dilip R. Abayasekara,
Ph.D., A.S. is a professional speaker, trainer, speech coach and CEO of
Speaker Services Unlimited. He specializes in helping organizations
develop leaders and helping people think, speak, and sell more
effectively. "Dr. Dilip" is the author of "The
Path of the Genie...Discover and Grow Your Own Genius" (available in
video and audio cassettes). He delivers seminars and workshops on
Mind Mapping, relationship building, presentation skills, impromptu
speaking skills, sales, and leadership to corporations and organizations.
He also offers seminars that are open to the general public and private
coaching in presentation skills and sales. Dr. Abayasekara can be
reached at Speaker Services Unlimited at (717) 612-1600 or send e-mail to: